12th May 2016 – When those best laid plans gang aglae.

Well it was supposed to be Round 4 of the ROC, however with the judge taken ill there had to be some last minute shuffling about and Myk Garton stepped in with a display of some of his pictures taken in 2016 so far, Julie Coombs gave us a brief on the annual club Photomarathon this coming Sunday – itself impacted by being on the same day as the Bristol 10k run, so our usual rendezvous of Caste Park is rendered impractical – and Eddie House and Roger Gowan talked about progress towards club entry into the Kingswood Salver . Just goes to prove what I always say: if you haven’t got a plan B you haven’t got a plan. Considering the necessarily last minute fair of the event I think it went OK. Well better than my entries into the ROC were likely to anyway.


Plan B for the blog too, then. Well plan is a little bit of a strong word at the best of times, but it all comes together in the end. Mostly. Sort of. We’ve talked about how Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Photography. More accurately, it’s a military adage, Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance and looking back to Danny Thomas’s two sessions he’s done for us over the last couple of years on Wedding photography it was amply illustrated that is the case when you have to turn knowledge, skills and practice into a set of images designed to last a life time. But what of those “Grab and Go” days?


Most amateur photographers photography, I would venture, comes under the heading of “Grab and Go”.  The idea is basically I will find something of interest when I get there.  Different from the organised photography trip in that it tends to be much more spontaneous. Now how much time lapses between the idea of taking the camera for a walk and taking the camera for a walk will vary from individual to individual. Literally grab and go, with the confidence that everything will work straight out of the bag  demands a work flow all of its own, basically all the necessary maintenance and charging needs to be done at the end of the day, before the equipment is put away. Regularly taking the camera out helps with this type, especially where batteries are concerned.  Flash guns skew the rules a bit, especially when they are infrequently used and you quickly learn that at least one spare set of batteries is a good idea. A couple of test firings before you leave the house can save frustration later.


Yes preparedness can mean having everything planned down to the last detail, including, of course, the alternatives when events and equipment conspire against you, but ….. And it is quite a big but, the techniques, equipment and lighting situations you are going to meet  can be prepared for in another, augmented and much more meaningful way than just on paper. It involves a thing called practice.


In 2008 Malcolm Gladwell wrote a very interesting book called “Outliers”. As happens with these things it tends to get remembered for one idea in it and that idea is usually taken completely out of context. That idea in this book’s instance is that to achieve a mastery of an activity it takes 10,000 hours of practice. Well not by itself, but that hasn’t stopped the critics.  There has to be some talent there in the first place.


We did a critique evening  a couple of weeks back where we said there were two parts to using the idea to develop  ourselves. Firstly is effort, to do the thing deliberately and secondly is  a consistent approach, to be purposeful about it.  Yes you may well get better after taking 10,000 frames, but that will largely come from a better understanding of how your equipment works.  Whether that makes you ten times better at 10,000 frames than it did at 1,000 is dubious (not least because there is no absolute scale to measure this by). What will make a difference is if you break the basic techniques down into actions and then go out and practice those actions, over and over. For instance, you could fix your basic kit lens at a given focal length, determine the hyperfocal distance for that focal length at a reasonable aperture for the available light and practice pre-focusing on people passing by either trough the viewfinder or through live view (turn the autofocus off and turn auto ISO on, the first is a must do the second optional). Or practice looking for triangular patterns. Or placing subjects on the thirds. There are many different things you can try.


Essentially as I wrote in the Critique post, there is a big difference between ten years experience and one years experience ten times over. Purpose and deliberation make that difference. This can be slotted into a day’s shooting for a ten or fifteen minute time slot, as a linking theme, as the sole purpose of getting the camera out of the bag (you don’t even have to leave the house to do it). One of the great things about digital photography is that an extra shot costs virtually nothing. That means the cost of practice is similarly low but its value is enormous, if we are serious about getting better. It is easy to fit into a shoot, into a day, into some spare time, but to make the most of it, it has to be purposeful and it has to be deliberate.


Sunday was the club Photo-Marathon, a big club thank you to Julie Coombs for putting the whole thing together and we look forward to the judging. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept we had a set time period in order to a single frame, in order, on each of ten subjects. Sounds simple enough and in concept it is. In execution it leaves you with some decisions to make against the clock. Certainly aids the concentration. Looking forward to the judging night, which will be by popular acclamation on a club night in a fortnight’s time.



N E X T   M E E T I N G.

Visit from a  speaker from Lee Filters.